SINGAPORE, March 2, 2008 – Even Mother Nature could not prevent Lorena Ochoa's runaway victory in the inaugural HSBC Women's Champions at Singapore's Tanah Merah Country Club. Despite the intervention of torrential rain and thunder storms the world number one capped an unbelievably successful debut for the US$2 million tournament.
The 26-year-old Mexican completed a wire-to-wire triumph, confirming beyond all doubts her status as the best female player on the planet. She shot a four-under -par final round of 68 to finish on 20 under par for the tournament and record an 11-shot victory over world number two Annika Sorenstam.
The tournament, introduced as a sister-event to the highly-popular men's HSBC Champions in Shanghai, brought together the Major winners of the past three years and all of the 2007 winners on the LPGA along with champions from all of the world's other leading ladies tours. It was hailed by LPGA officials and the world's top players as an instant classic.
"It's a huge success; a huge success on every level. It's no question the best event we've done in Asia by far," said Chris Higgs, the COO and Vice President of the LPGA.
"This has raised the bar significantly higher and set a really, really impressive standard. It's easily and instantly one of the top five LPGA events worldwide; without question. The HSBC Women's Champions has instantly become a leader and a benchmark for future LPGA tournaments, not only internationally but also in the United States. In many, many areas this event will be promoted to the other tournaments, including some of the Majors, as a best-in-class tournament."
Lauded by the elite of women's golf in almost every aspect from the condition and quality of the golf course, through to the travel and hospitality arrangements, the competition exceeded even the sponsor's own high expectations.
"I'm stunned! Absolutely stunned!" said Giles Morgan, HSBC's Head of Sponsorship.
"We thought the 2007 HSBC Champions was the best tournament we'd ever hosted: a great competition with a great finale and a great champion in Phil Mickelson. Before we came to Singapore we considered it the best golf event in Asia, but this has topped all of that. We knew that we had a successful format and we knew the time and the location were right for a women's version, but we couldn't have predicted that the first event would go this well. We have to thank the players for their professionalism and enthusiasm, and for the way they embraced the fans and the Champions philosophy.
"It's going to energise all of our golf sponsorships worldwide. There are so many things we can take from the HSBC Women's Champions and add to November's fourth edition of the men's version in Shanghai. One can only imagine what this will do to the enthusiasm for women's golf in Singapore and the ASEAN region. It will certainly add untold vitality to our grassroots youth programmes in Singapore and accelerate the development of the women's game in this region exponentially," Morgan added.
The players themselves were unanimous in their praise for the event and many of the household names pledged their long-term support for the tournament, which many rated as good as, if not better than some of the sport's Majors.
"I'm so thankful and I hope other people follow them. Companies like HSBC should get a medal for supporting women the way they do," said World Golf Hall of Fame member and 70-time winner on the LPGA Annika Sorenstam.
"I want to say congratulations to HSBC and thank you for having us," declared world number one Ochoa.
"It's such a great event that we'll be back again for many, many years. No question," the Mexican promised.